Council Votes on Cameron Village Rezoning

Passed at 85ft

October, 07, 2008, by David

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Today at 1pm city council will vote on going forward with rezoning part of Cameron Village to make way for the

5 to 9

4 to 8 story residential/retail mixed use project proposed by Crescent Resources LLC.  The group behind Save Cameron News is asking the council to perform an Infrastructure/Traffic Analysis in advance of any rezoning that will allow for larger structures in the area.  That same group claims to have been shut out of meetings and feels betrayed councilman and neighbor Russ Stephenson’s support for progressing the project without such analysis. 

The group was unsuccessful previously in getting a traffic analysis performed, today represents their last push before the zoning change is made.  The group also cites the individual long term Small Area Plan for Wade/Oberlin area, particularly this statement: “Buildings at the edges of the nonresidential areas should provide transitions to the surrounding residential area, not to be more than two or three stories in height if adjacent to single family housing.” and ““It is recommended that the Urban Design Guidelines (UDG’s) be evaluated as part of the review process for applicability to all conditional use zoning cases in the study area”.  Based on these statements in the Small Area Plan, the residents of Oberlin Village feel that it is their right for the city to perform “a thorough analysis of overall density accommodation would be a component particularly since this area has been designated as a focus area for Raleigh.”

Previously our readers discussed other options for further development in Cameron Village.

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  • Billy
    10/07 03:35 PM

    I think this building design is terribly uninspired but I think Cameron Village needs vertical density.  CV is walkable, it has an existing public transit infrastructure and when people were fighting against Coker Towers, many were arguing that if this type of density was to be developed, it should be in Cameron Village.  The opposition now is mostly NIMBYism.  The city needs to redevelop Wade Avenue to make it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly - having sidewalks that are continuous and on both sides of the street would be a nice start and Oberlin between Wade and Cameron Village needs to be improved for bicycle traffic as well.  It’s entirely possible the credit crisis might make all this a moot discussion for the next 5-years anyway but this is a City Council discussion where I’d love to see Crowder impose some of his design opinions on the project.

  • Michael
    10/07 03:49 PM

    I agree 100% with Billy.

    Also, Unless I am confused about the location of the project, I don’t understand the reference to the small area plan, made by the ‘Save Cameron News’ group.  This building is proposed for the NE corner of Clark and Oberlin, right?  If so where is the adjacent single family residential zone that is cited in the quote?  The adjacent structures are Cameron Village shops, and office building across Oberlin, A bank across Clark, and on another bank on the SW corner.  This argument doesn’t seem to apply.

  • Betsy
    10/07 04:32 PM

    If everyone comes and goes by car, it’s essentially a suburban development, no matter how dense and intense.

  • chris
    10/07 05:39 PM

    Many trips from this development will still require cars.  But many will not.  24 hour grocery, organic foods, library, drugstore, banks, restaurants, bars, shopping, post office, etc. are all within very easy walking distance.  This is a first step in renovating the entirety of Cameron Village to make it a more urban location (if more of your customers live nearby, you need fewer parking spaces). 

    CAT bus already connects through here nicely.  Would be great for all involved if Wolfline could be persuaded to take a turn past this location as well—in addition, it is walkable to many important corners of NCSU campus. 

    Negotiate for control over architectural details as part of the approval process.  In doing so, recall that the concept of “scale” is horizontal as well as vertical, and that encouraging pedestrian use (rather than pedestrian design!) is more about horizontal scale than vertical scale.

  • Jenna
    10/07 06:06 PM

    Any update on how they voted?

  • revolu
    10/07 06:38 PM

    5-2 it passed

  • Steve W
    10/07 06:41 PM

    NIMBYism causes urban sprawl. This is exactly why developers prefer to slash and burn the countryside, where there is no neighborhood opposition to change to drive up the cost of development and kill projects in a troubled economy.

  • Billy
    10/07 07:30 PM

    The fight against “Towers” was misguided because 8 stories isn’t a tower unless you live in Clayton.  The NIMBY neighbors will most likely give up the fight now that they lost this battle, much as they did with the Coker project when they won.  They should continue to fight to shape the project so that it isn’t mediocre crap like the project at Oberlin and Wade.  I doubt that will happen because it’s easier to fight against something than to create and fight for a better plan.  That was somewhat evident on this site when the publishers invited renderings of better ideas and very little was offered.

  • Fallonia
    10/07 08:22 PM

    Jack be NIMBY, Jack be quick, Jack gets burned by the surveyors’ stick.

    Preservation of Oberlin Village is more than a NIMBY issue.


  • Billy
    10/07 08:37 PM

    You have to worry about surveyors’ dicks too!

    I really wish they weren’t demolishing the building where Balentines Cafeteria once existed but Preservation wasn’t what the neighbors were fighting for, was it?  If so, they should have communicated that theme.  I like Cameron Village but I can’t fight to preserve the ideas that formed it.  Cameron Village was developed as a downtown killer - it was a suburban shopping center.  It is no longer in the suburbs and the area to be developed is not in a residential area.  What are we trying to preserve?  The crappy 2006 remodeling scheme of the shopping center?  I preferred the 1980’s version that was shaded by parking decks.

  • Jenna
    10/07 08:58 PM

    Hurray! Take that NIMBYs! I, for one, am excited that there will be more retail, restaurants, etc within walking distance of my house! (And yes, I will walk - I won’t add to the dreaded traffic.)

  • ChiefJoJo
    10/07 11:03 PM

    FWIW, the rezoning allows bldgs up to 124 ft & 115 ft in height adjacent to Clark and Oberlin respectively… this is more like 11-13 stories when you include the parking deck and retail beneath… and this site is NOT adjacent to single family homes, it is across Clark from a Sun Trust Bank if I recall… so at least let’s get the facts straight.

    Now, I want good urban form in CV, but I think this is a bit too much out of scale for those streets, especially with only a 20-ft setback for the tallest portion near Clark.  But “Save Cameron Village???”  A little over-the-top, eh?

    I would have rather seen something like 90-100 ft max here, but now that it is approved, I’m not too upset.  This will be better than nothing, and while it is not served directly by rapid transit, there are two bus lines in this area, and it is very walk and bike friendly with lots of uses & jobs nearby, so I am sure that there will be many fewer auto trips here than in a random suburban apartment complex.

    This is by no means a perfect project, but CV needs to become a more dense, urban focus area, and this is a step in that direction.

  • Fallonia
    10/07 11:37 PM

    The canyon effect on Wade Ave (at the curve near SC) is coming to mixed use areas ITB.

    I would like to see things scaled more in accord with respecting what is.

    Gonna be dark on those sidewalks. For reference, how tall is Old Downtown? That would be a decent height limit.

    We need to remember how many people are needed to support Large buildings, lest they go the way of downtown past for a while.

    Billy, is this not exactly what you wrote about CV before?

  • ChiefJoJo
    10/08 03:21 PM

    So the N&O article this morning mentioned that the max height of the project is 85 ft.  *If true*, that is quite different than the 124 ft that was proposed initially.  85 ft is completely reasonable here, and should cause no one any heartburn.

  • Fallonia
    10/08 04:54 PM

    That is basically 2-times the max height measure on a house (to the mid-line of a roof). Of course all that depends on what they call the ground point. At CV, the back side will be several stories down. 85 feet from the front sidewalk grade is therefore 2x as tall as a house on Anderson Drive.

    Correction: Secret code in my earlier post : SC = SECU.

  • billy
    10/08 05:30 PM

    This project isn’t being built in an area similar to Anderson Drive, it’s being built in a shopping center where a 5-story building already exists.  It’s a little taller than the Bloomsbury.  And my argument is that the plans are not approved and the neighbors and concerned citizens should fight to influence the shape and design of this project - unlike the Wade Avenue project you reference.  The neighbors thought they won the battle and let developers dump a pile of crap in the location instead of a larger project that could be perceived as smaller.

  • Fallonia
    10/08 05:57 PM

    I dig. Anderson Drive is a visual comparison.

    How tall would you say the Wade Canyon structures are?

  • billy
    10/08 06:17 PM

    7-stories?  They could have stepped the top stories back a few feet to prevent that canyon feeling.  You could create terraces at the third story and the 6th with the building stepping back at each and avoid the canyon wall feeling and create a better looking building.  That sketch above looks just like the crappy un-leased shopping center at Wade and Oberlin.

  • Bob Geary
    10/08 09:31 PM

    Billy—I agree with you that the objective now must be to “shape” the project to fit and enhance its context; but that job will be MUCH more difficult given that the Council has handed a rezoning entitlement to the developers to go “tall” on the full bulk of their project. (For similar scale, see 222 Glenwood.)

    Can you remember a case where site-plan approval trimmed a zoning entitlement down to size based on the purported “eight standards” in the Raleigh code? I can’t. Generally, the best you can hope for is better shrubbery.

    As for what happened with Coker Towers and its spawn, Coker Jr., I was involved with the first and to some degree with the second. It took an all-out, year-long campaign to stop the “Towers” (and, initially, the tallest tower was proposed to be 19 stories—hence, the name we gave to it), and the project failed mainly because then-Councilor Scruggs’ mother-in-law lived nearby and was against it.

    When the same neighborhood group (NCRDR) tried to “work with” the second-round developers (Crosland now, not Coker himself) on the “Jr.” plan, they failed completely—for two reasons: (1) Crosland wasn’t interested in a single thing they had to say, and 2) the newly elected Mayor Meeker wasn’t at all interested either, and made it clear from the get-go that the “Jr.” project, contextual or not, was going to be approved as submitted. Which it was, by an 8-0 Council vote. It wasn’t that the neighbors didn’t try to improve on “Jr.”, in other words. It was that the new Council, under Meeker, was determined to make peace after the Coker war, and determined also not to be labeled anti-development.

    The Cameron Village decision yesterday was in that go-along tradition: Meeker lead the pro-development majority, as he has throughout his tenure (remember the Soleil Center? Charles said he was against it, then voted for it); Councilors Crowder and Stephenson, the two dissenters, tried to “shape” a better project but were overruled by the mayor and his supporters.

    And by the way, it’s my understanding that the final rezoning “envelope,” though not what anyone thinks is excellent (Meeker himself, for example, pronounced it “a little too big,” or words to that effect, even as he voted for it), is somewhat reduced from the original proposal—the result of some neighbors’ efforts, and Crowder’s and Stephenson’s, all of whom pushed hard for improvements.

    Not to belabor this, but the Cameron Village case is a great example of how Raleigh’s zoning codes and planning ordinances add up to a big pile of mush. Cameron Village is governed by shopping center zoning AND by a pedestrial business overlay zoning code, the latter of which allows huge density (up to 320 units per acre) under some circumstances. The PBOD must be accompanied by a streetscape plan, and Cameron Village had one—it called for low-rise development within the 50-foot height limit contained in the shopping-center code. Are you with me? This rezoning jacks up the height limit of the streetscape plan without any requirement that the owners of Cameron Village submit a new streetscape plan for the shopping center. Is this the beginning of high-rise redevelopment of Cameron Village? Who knows. So far, it’s just a spot-rezoning of one small corner (less than 1/10 the total area of C.V.) That’s how Raleigh plans—one spot at a time. And if that sounds like it’s not planning a-h-e-a-d, it isn’t.

  • NCguy
    10/08 11:15 PM

    I live in Cameron Village, and I have since 1994. Here’s how I see it: the developers will get their money out of their venture. So, we could have something nicely planned, or we could have something that is now like Oberlin Towers: crappy apartments/condos & a strip mall that will only have a handful of tenants. We could have had a small cinema complex & a planned mixed use urban development…now, we have something that just doesn’t appeal to me.

    I’d rather have the space used than to sit there like the eyesore it is.

  • Billy
    10/12 08:09 PM

    Mr Geary, If I understand correctly, the council approved a rezoning to allow a larger building but the plans for this building have not been approved and there is still motive to organize and fight.  Loss on the point of height is not the loss of the war.  I agree the city too rarely adheres to the guidelines it creates to shape the city but I think the Streetscape Plan for CV was already outdated and it is an ideal location for some vertical density, rather than spreading demolishing large swaths of the Village to create 50-ft strips of buildings. 

    The Coker Towers fight may have continued after the initial victory by neighbors but it didn’t appear that way from the outside and the council members probably noticed.  I think the “No Towers” movement needs to rebrand itself as promoting “Good Neighbors” and fight for design features that will make this a less imposing structure than it could be.  For example, if the building stepped back 6-feet at the 3rd and 6th floors, it would create desirable terraces and create a structure that seems less monolithic than a 5-story building with an uninterrupted vertical face.  The developers have been allowed to build taller and now they have room to make a concession to be a good neighbor.

    Raleigh Dog I agree with some of what you have to say but obviously not with the “End of Discussion” closing. I hope that is the end of discussion about all this “End of discussion” business.

  • Enigma
    10/18 01:40 PM

    Would someone please provide some specifics as to which part of the Comprehensive Plan, Wade/Oberlin small area plan, or the Urban Design Guidelines this project doesn’t comply with?  Tried posting this as a response to the Peter Eichenberger article but that option went poof.

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